Longtime Jeopardy announcer Johnny Gilbert is paying tribute to Alex Trebek. In a new interview with People, Gilbert remembered Trebek, who died on November 8 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, as an “introspective” and “very intelligent” host who loved interacting with the show’s audience. “Everybody’s walking around in a little bit of a fog, shaken from the whole thing,” Gilbert said of the mood on set in the wake of Trebek’s death. “Part of me left here when Alex left, really.”
During his 37-year tenure on Jeopardy, Trebek saw many co-workers come and go, but Gilbert, now 96, was a constant. The veteran announcer has worked on countless game shows, but he told People that Trebek was different than his fellow hosts. “I noticed that he wasn’t the usual big-smiley-face emcee,” Gilbert recalled of their first meeting prior to Jeopardy‘s relaunch in 1984. “He was quiet and listening to everybody and everything.”
“Alex has always been the same person,” continued Gilbert. “He read a tremendous amount and traveled a lot. He was always doing crossword puzzles to keep his mind active … He was always telling the youngsters in the audience, ‘You’ve got to read, you have to learn. That’s the way you’re going to succeed.’”
Gilbert added that Trebek often seemed happiest when interacting with the Jeopardy audience. “He would answer any question anyone wanted to ask,” he said of Trebek’s commercial break Q&As. “He would get so involved that we would have to hold up coming back out of commercial for him to finish with the audience, but he insisted.”
While the Jeopardy set has been somber since production resumed on November 30, Gilbert plans to remain with the show, and he’s hopeful that Trebek’s successors will be able to carry on his legacy. “Jeopardy! is a very special game,” said the longtime announcer. “All that information that he gave out, aside from what was actually on the show, was in his mind. Somebody has to be able to handle that. If the person lets the show be the show, it will be fine.”
Read Johnny Gilbert’s full interview with People here, and tune in for Alex Trebek’s final week of Jeopardy episodes on Monday, January 4.
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